Chief Human Resources Officer
Corizon Health, Inc.
Sally Powers reveals that much of her success came from taking on work others didn’t want. As an eighteen year old young woman working in HR back when it was called personnel, she never turned down an opportunity for new experiences. Her first boss disliked attending unemployment hearings so Sally jumped at the chance to attend and represent her company, gaining valuable experience that would pay off down the road. A few years later, as Personnel Manager for 600 employees in the corporate office of Venture Stores, she took on responsibility for office services, a thankless task no one wanted. She laughingly recalls how it became an office joke when she had to deal with the repeated plumbing problems in the men’s restroom. However, this humble start grew into working with parent company May Department Stores in scouting new properties and planning their new office complex as they grew. Her experience went on to include property management, negotiating multi-year, multi-million dollar leases, office design and construction oversight, and purchasing.
We shared that our research shows that many women hesitate to raise their hand to volunteer for something new because they believe it is dishonest to say they can do something they haven’t done before. Sally laughed and explained there is a big difference between saying “I can do that” and “I have done that”. She wouldn’t have raised her hand if she didn’t have confidence she could do it. She told herself she was intelligent and resourceful and could figure it out – and she did. Her willingness to take on whatever needed to be done paid off as she developed a breadth of experience and a reputation as the go to person. Whenever there was an important project or problem to solve, people knew there was a good chance she would have relevant experience and if she didn’t, she would figure it out.
Sally continues to take on new challenges, including her current role as Chief Human Resources Officer for Corizon Health, Inc., the country’s largest prison healthcare contractor, providing quality healthcare services at over 500 correctional facilities serving over 350,000 inmates in 28 states.
In our research interviews, women and men consistently noted the importance of figuring out how you add value. Sally added value as a go to person by taking on whatever needed to be done and building a breadth of experience. Next time a need arises, remind yourself that saying you can do something doesn’t mean you’ve done it before, just that you’ll find a way to get it done. Challenge yourself to raise your hand and grab the next opportunity before it passes you by. You never know what it may lead to.